Delhi keeps Malaysia rail deal hopes alive

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By The Telegraph Online
  • Published 3.12.03

Kuala Lumpur, Dec. 2 (AFP): India said today it still hoped to win part of a multi-billion dollar Malaysian rail contract as promised before it was cut out of the deal in favour of a politically well-connected local group.

India’s visiting minister of state for commerce and industry, Satyabrata Mookherjee, told reporters he had been informed that the Malaysian cabinet was still considering the deal, which also originally involved China.

Asked whether he was confident that India still had a chance of securing the contract, he replied: “I can’t say that but then we are hopeful. We have a very good track record and I don’t see why we should not get part of the business.”

One of Asia’s biggest infrastructure contracts, the double-tracking rail project forms part of an ambitious 5,600-km trans-Asia link that runs from Kunming in China through Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia to Singapore.

It involves building a dual track and electrifying a 600- km north-south rail line running the length of peninsular Malaysia.

The project was originally promised to state-owned Indian Railway Construction Co. (IRCON) and China Railway under a government-to-government deal involving a barter trade of some eight million tonnes of palm oil worth $3.16 billion.

Music piracy

Malaysia must tackle its ”rampant” music and video disc piracy problems with stiffer penalties and a hunt for those at the root of the illegal trade, Mookherjee said on Tuesday.

“I think it is to a great extent rampant here,” the minister told reporters at a Malaysia-India business forum.

“Legal steps can be taken to curb this piracy. They should trace out the people who are really responsible for it,” said the minister.

Malaysian authorities regularly conduct high-profile crackdowns on sellers of illegal music and movie discs in malls and night markets, only for them to pop up soon after.